UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 6 â€” A year before, the two men had faced off across the Security Council with icy stares and chilly comments. Back together again at the United Nations on Friday, Colin L. Powell, the American secretary of state, and Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, had nothing but warm words.
They were drawn here by a shared interest in a donors’ conference held by the United Nations, the World Bank and the United States that raised $520 million for war-ravaged Liberia. They used the occasion to meet over a working lunch at the Waldorf Towers official residence of the United States ambassador to the United Nations, John D. Negroponte, and to make common cause on the issue that had separated them last February â€” Iraq.
“Last year, at this time, it was difficult, it was a difficult time, and we were not on the same wavelength,” Mr. Powell acknowledged. “This year, I think we are in agreement that what we have to do is work to help the people of Iraq build a democracy to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as that is possible.”
Mr. de Villepin was asked if he could trust the man who a year and a day earlier had told the Security Council of stockpiled illicit weapons in Iraq â€” weapons that arms inspectors now conclude did not exist.
“I think that my colleague and my friend Colin Powell, when he stood up in front of the Security Council at the beginning of February, he took the stand he believed in with the knowledge he had at the time,” Mr. de Villepin answered.0